Thursday, March 24, 2016

EASTER IN MEXICO 2016



 WELCOME TO EASTER CELEBRATIONS IN MEXICO 

I am taking the liberty of republishing my post from last year with a few revisions in honor of the upcoming Easter celebrations in Mexico.  I hope those of you who saw the original posting a year ago will appreciate it again. And for those who are new to Mexico and Beyond:  Laura's Photo Journey here is the chance to see it for the first time.  Gracias and enjoy!
                           
Mexico’s Easter traditions are predominantly based on those from Spain which were brought over with the Spanish during their conquest of the Aztec Empire. Many of these European traditions, however, were modified over a long period of time during the process of converting the indigenous peoples to Christianity in the colonial period and also by indigenous influences. In my opinion, these factors and others contribute to the special and uniquely Mexican celebrations of Easter.



Now for a brief introduction: Easter in Mexico is a two-week holiday consisting of Semana Santa beginning on Palm Sunday and ending Easter Saturday and Pascua (Starting with Easter Sunday and ending the following Saturday). For Mexico, the Easter holidays are a combination of Semana Santa (Holy Week) and Pascua (Resurrection Sunday aka Easter). Holy Week celebrates the last days of the Christ's life and Pascua is the celebration of Christ's Resurrection. Got it? Now we are ready to talk Easter in Mexico!




Aaugh! I hope I have made myself perfectly clear in my attempt to explain Semana Santa and Pascua, the two weeks of Easter celebrations in Mexico! 


Semana Santa is undoubtedly the most important holiday in Mexican culture. Schools and often businesses in Mexico close during these two weeks and many Mexican families go on holiday during Semana Santa and Pascua. The crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ are the foundations of the Christian faith. That is why the major branches of Christendom (Roman Catholic, Protestant and the Eastern Churches) memorialize in various ways the death, burial and resurrection of Christ each spring.



    The Silent Processions on Good Friday in Oaxaca City are spectacular!

Mexicans celebrate the last days of Christ during Holy Week with elaborate and much anticipated processions, ceremonies, and rituals. Most of the larger Semana Santa celebrations include a dramatic reenactment of the capture, the trial, and the crucifixion of Jesus. To be a part of these productions is a great honor and the actors are known for delivering inspiring and moving performances. The primary days of Semana Santa include the following:



Palm Sunday - Domingo de Ramos


   The faithful celebrate Palm Sunday in San Miguel de Allende.


On the Sunday prior to Easter, known as Palm Sunday, the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem is commemorated. According to the Bible, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and the people in the streets laid down palm branches in his path. In many towns and villages in Mexico on this day there are processions reenacting Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem with woven palms available for purchase outside the churches. 




    Processions through the cobblestone streets of San Miguel de Allende on Palm Sunday.

In Mexico communities also have special masses dedicated to the blessing of palm fronds. These fronds are often woven into crosses and other designs and can be quite intricate. These palm fronds are brought by parishioners to the churches to have holy water sprinkled on them. Some of these palm fronds are then later burned and the ashes saved for marking foreheads on the following Ash Wednesday. 




    A great many handmade Palm Sunday remembrances are available during Semana Santa.



Good Friday - Viernes Santo



 A lovely altar to the Virgin Mary as seen in San Miguel de Allende during Semana Santa celebrations.

With more 90 than million Roman Catholics, Mexico has the second largest number of Catholics in the world after Brazil. It also has some of the most vibrant celebrations of Good Friday – the day Christ is believed to have been betrayed by Judas, sentenced by Pontius Pilate, and crucified.





      Good Friday procession in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico


Good Friday commemorates the day of Christ’s crucifixion. On this day in Mexico there are solemn religious processions in which statues of Christ and the Virgin Mary are carried through town. Reenactments of the day of crucifixion also take place in almost all communities in Mexico on Good Friday. These reenactments often become a large theatrical production (the Passion Play) which is performed during all or most of Holy Week. The main focus of these reenactments is the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem, the Last Supper, the Betrayal, the Judgment, the procession with the cross (Via Crucis: Stations of the Cross), the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection. 



     Good Friday celebrations in Oaxaca City are truly memorable.


     The Roman soldiers at the Good Friday procession in San Miguel de Allende.


San Miguel de Allende is especially noted for its observances during Holy Week and which we were fortunate to witness during the years we spent in this charming city. The focus for much of the Good Friday pageantry is the “El Señor de la Columna” Christ image, which is brought from the Sanctuary of Atotonilco outside of San Miguel de Allende and which is paraded among the various churches of San Miguel from the Sunday before Palm Sunday to the Wednesday after Easter when it returns to Atotonilco.





"Once a year for nearly 200 years, the faithful have gathered at the shrine of Atotoniclo at midnight two Sundays before Easter. They remove images of Nuestro Señor de la Columna, Saint John and Mary and place them on platforms to be carried approximately 7 miles to the San Juan de Dios Church in San Miguel de Allende. Nuestro Señor de la Columna is a life-size image of a bleeding Christ leaning heavily on a column. His ribs are exposed from flogging and his cheek bears the scar of the Judas kids."  Credit:  http://blog.antiguacapillasanmiguel.com

On Good Friday, “El Señor de la Columna” Christ image is carried to La Parroquia, the parish church on the main plaza of San Miguel, accompanied by residents dressed as disciples of Christ and as Roman soldiers. At noon, images of the Holy Family, the disciples, Mary Magdalene, and John the Baptist are carried in the Good Friday procession through the city streets. At dark, the images reappear in another procession, but dressed in black and accompanied by somber drumbeats. During the evening procession conchero dancers may also appear dancing in honor of Christ at the main plaza. See my blog posting dated March 6, 2015 on the Fiesta de los Concheros at the following link:  LOS CONCHEROS






  There are many images to be remembered from the Good Friday procession in San Miguel de Allende.

Holy Week in San Miguel de Allende concludes with the ritual of the burning of Judas on Easter Sunday, not Holy Saturday as is more common elsewhere in Mexico. Holy Week and Good Friday are truly special occasions in San Miguel and which I can highly recommend. Just be sure to make your travel arrangements with plenty of advance notice! 



Good Friday procession from La Parroquia (the parish church) of San Miguel de Allende.

Like San Miguel de Allende, the city of Oaxaca has truly special and moving Holy Week and Good Friday celebrations. We were fortunate to be living in Oaxaca City when we witnessed our first Good Friday processions in Mexico. Each of the local churches in Oaxaca City has it’s own procession which involves carrying their church’s statues of Jesus and Mary through the downtown streets. There are also processions in which only women of the congregation participate.



The crowds gather at the Santo Domingo Church and Convent for the Good Friday Silent Procession in Oaxaca City. 



     The Good Friday traditional Silent Procession in Oaxaca City - wow!


But the most impressive of all the processions on Good Friday is held at night and is conducted in silence. To say we were stunned and speechless is an understatement. The pageantry and drama of this evening procession in Oaxaca is difficult to convey in words. The only sound to be heard was the shuffling of feet and the somber beating of drums as the parade passed by the large and impressive Santo Domingo Church and Convent. The participants in this Good Friday procession carry candles to light their way with incense burners filling the air with smoke. This parade takes you back in time and makes you feel as though you were there. Truly a moving experience!




      Each of the many churches in Oaxaca City has a procession on Good Friday.


      More stunning drama during the Good Friday Silent Processions in Oaxaca City


On Good Friday a passion play also takes place in the nearby pueblo of Zaachila. Oaxaca’s unique cultural mix is evident in the indigenous Danza de las Plumas, Dance of the Feathers, which is held at Carmen Alto Church on Easter Sunday.  What an exciting way to conclude Semana Santa in Oaxaca!



The Dance of the Feathers celebrates Semana Santa on Easter Sunday in Oaxaca.



   Easter Sunday at the Alto Carmen Church and La Danza de las Plumas in Oaxaca City.


Good Friday in Puerto Vallarta

The Roman soldiers lead the Good Friday procession along the Malecon in Puerto Vallarta.

In Puerto Vallarta, locals and visitors alike participate in Easter processions and religious celebrations including Good Friday. The Good Friday processions is especially colorful and unique because it takes place on the city’s beautiful oceanfront Malecon walkway. The procession commences in Centro and continues on the Malecon into Old Town (Zona Romantica) until it reaches Parque Cardenas (Plaza Cardenas) where the crucifixion of Christ is staged. The Good Friday procession in Puerto Vallarta is very traditional in spirit, but very different because of it’s setting. It is truly special!



  Disciples of Christ and Angels participate in the Good Friday procession in Puerto Vallarta.

Easter festivities start on Palm Sunday when churches across the city celebrate the blessings of the palm fronds. In observance of Maundy Thursday locals hold all-night vigils. On Good Friday, the city streets are filled with spirited religious processions and the Christ re-enactments. 




Good Friday Procession in Puerto Vallarta
On Easter Sunday, most locals enjoy a large family meal after attending mass at their local church. This is usually a quiet and relaxing day unless you happen to be going to the beach to play and party! And then you better be prepared for fun, fun, fun in the sun!




  A Huichol family from the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range enjoy Easter Sunday in Puerto Vallarta.



Holy Saturday - Sabado de Gloria 



A real life "angel" dressed for the Semana Santa celebrations in San Miguel de Allende.


Sábado de Gloria (Holy Saturday) is dedicated to the vigil of waiting between the death of Jesus and his resurrection. This holy day memorializes the full day Christ was in the tomb. Statues of the Virgin Mary are dressed in black as a symbol of mourning. Frequently there is a solemn evening mass during which participants hold lighted candles.




    “El Señor de la Columna” Christ image during an evening Semana Santa procession in San Miguel de Allende.


In some areas of central and southern Mexico on Holy Saturday there is a custom of burning Judas in effigy because of his betrayal of Jesus. This ritual was introduced by the Spaniards during the colonial period when they were busy converting the indigenous peoples to Christianity. This practice has now has become a festive occasion with cardboard or paper mache figures constructed, sometimes with firecrackers inside, and then burned. Often the Judas figures are made to look like Satan, but sometimes they are made to resemble contemporary political figures! 



      Judas figures at the Jardin (main plaza) of San Miguel de Allende.

Easter Sunday - Domingo de Pascua



    A family dressed for Easter Sunday Mass in Oaxaca City - simply lovely! 


Easter Sunday celebrates the Resurrection of Christ. Bells and fireworks announce the arrival of Easter and Sunday morning mass is traditionally followed by a large family feast. You won't come across any mention of the Easter Bunny or chocolate eggs on Easter Sunday in Mexico! This is generally a day when people go to church and celebrate quietly with their families. Pascua begins on Easter Sunday which starts the second week of Easter celebrations in Mexico. This week-long period follows Semana Santa (Holy Week) and has a much more cheerful and positive tone, reflecting the resurrection, the start of Spring, and the promise of new beginnings.


OTHER EASTER TRADITIONS:


There are many regional Holy Week customs in Mexico.  For example:

*Tarahumara Indians in the mountains of Chihuahua paint themselves white during Holy Week.

* In some cities, including Oaxaca City, there is a Procesión de Silencio, a silent procession, wherein the people march down the streets by candlelight and in silence. This custom is from the Spanish city of Seville which is famous for Semana Santa observances.

*In Iztapalapa (also spelled Ixtapalapa), an area of Mexico City, the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday becomes a titanic, spectacular celebration which attracts people not only from Mexico, but from around the world. In fact, the Passion Play in Iztapalapa is so impressive that both national and international media cover the event from the beginning to the end.

The Iztapalapa Passion Play is a community endeavor organized and carried out annually by the residents. It is sponsored by the secular Iztapalapa government, but is not officially sanctioned by the Catholic Church. The drama includes 4000 locals as actors and reportedly draws 2 million spectators. Wow!

All of the pageant’s actors must have been born in Iztapalapa. Whoever portrays Christ is selected on the basis of both good moral character and physical strength. The actor wears an actual crown of thorns, is flogged, and bears a 200 pound cross through the streets, before being “crucified” (thankfully tied to the cross, not nailed). From what I have read the Ixtapalapa Passion Play is truly a sight to behold.

* In many regions of Mexico people show their devotion by visiting twelve different churches in a single day – one church for each apostle.

* In more remote regions like the Copper Canyon local cultures mix Christian celebration with ancient native rituals thus paying homage to both their Spanish and Indian heritage.


*In Oaxaca City, local indigenous men perform the Danza de las Plumas, the "Dance of the Feathers" on Easter Sunday.


IN CONCLUSION:

                   
Until next Easter!

The two weeks of commemorating Easter in Mexico are far more than a set of colorful recreations and processions. It is the greatest expression of the culture, faith, and unity of a country through its traditions. The sense of family, hope and hospitality of the people reaches its peak in these customs that involves the grand majority of Mexico. Regardless of which city you decide to visit for the Easter festivities, you will most definitely find a spectacular display of faith, tradition, and wonderful pageantry.  In the words of the traditional Mexican greeting: ¡Felices Pascuas de Resurrección! (Happy Easter!)



      Beautiful and colorful Easter flowers from San Miguel de Allende.

I remember hearing many years ago that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, I am a believer of those inspiring words so I am including the link to my WEB ALBUM below which has additional photos for this posting. And if that is not enough, I have also included the following embedded SLIDESHOW of the web album for your immediate enjoyment. 


Please scroll down to the bottom of this page in order to access the posting ARCHIVE and the FOLLOW BY EMAIL link to receive automatic posting notifications.

I sincerely appreciate hearing from my readers with their questions, comments, and suggestions. Until then, gracias and safe travels! Laura


CLICK ON THE FOLLOWING IMAGE 
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EASTER CELEBRATIONS IN MEXICO


                                             MEMORIES ARE JUST A CLICK AWAY!  



Friday, March 4, 2016

STREET ART IN MEXICO AND LATIN AMERICA




There is something very special about walking down a random street and seeing colorfully painted street art, or murals, by artists who are truly gifted. Street art often reflects social, cultural, and political views and because it is inexpensive to create and to view it is accessible to people of all backgrounds, interests, and persuasions.



                                                SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE, MEXICO

Because street art is primarily created in public locations it may be unsanctioned more often than not.  It is artwork executed outside the context of traditional art venues. And like much art, there is much room for interpretation. Street art, like most art, really comes down to the eyes of the beholder.  To me that is what makes street art just as interesting and exciting as art found in more typical settings.The line between street art and graffiti can be blurred for many.  In some cases street art can be a thriving community project, but some people only see it as a source of vandalism with ugly tagging.




VALPARAISO, CHILE

The term “street art” gained popularity during the graffiti art boom of the early 1980's and continues to be applied to subsequent incarnations. The terms "urban art”, "guerrilla art”, “post-graffiti," and "neo-graffiti" are also sometimes used when referring to street art. Street art is often motivated by the artist to communicate directly with the public at large and free from perceived confines of the formal art world. Street artists sometimes present socially relevant content with an aesthetic appeal in order to attract attention to a cause.


                                                    SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE, MEXICO


In Latin America there is no shortage of talented artists and street art can be found throughout most countries. Street artists often travel between countries to spread their designs. Some artists have gained cult-followings, media and art world attention, and have gone on to work commercially in the styles which made their work known on the streets.


                                      COLONIA GUADALUPE, SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE


HISTORY OF STREET ART:

“The origins of modern street painting can be traced to Britain. Pavement artists were found all over the United Kingdom and by 1890 it was estimated that more than 500 artists were making a full-time living from pavement art in London alone.


The British term for pavement artist is "screever". The term is derived from the writing style, often Copperplate, that typically accompanied the works of pavement artists since the 1700s. The term screever is most commonly cited as Shakespearean slang dating from around 1500.

The works of screevers often were accompanied by poems and proverbs, lessons on morality, and political commentary on the day’s events. They were described as "producing a topical, pictorial newspaper of current event." They appealed to both the working people, who (on the whole) could not read or write, but understood the visual images; and to the educated members of the middle-classes who appreciated the moral lessons and comments. It was important for a screever to catch the eye of the ‘well to do’ and in turn attract the pennies donated for their efforts.”  SOURCE



                                                       BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA


                                                            OAXACA, OAXACA


                                                       VALPARAISO, CHILE



                                        BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA 

STREET ART IN SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE, MEXICO:



                                           COLONIA ANTONIO, SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE


My husband and I were fortunate enough to be living in San Miguel de Allende, México when the inauguration of the first Street Art Festival took place in the Colonia (or neighborhood) of Guadalupe.  San Miguel de Allende is a UNESCO world heritage city and has become quite well known, but it had never experienced anything like this art festival.  It was something new, different, and very edgy.


                                    COLONIA GUADALUPE, SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE


                                     MORE STREET ART IN COLONIA GUADALUPE


                         THE FIRST ART DISTRICT, COLONIA GUADALUPE, SAN MIGUEL


                 STREET ARTISTS IN ACTION DURING THE FIRST STREET ART FESTIVAL


                                             TOOLS OF THE STREET ART TRADE


In the Spring of 2013 the city of San Miguel initiated a program with the Muros en Blanco (Blank Walls) organization naming Colonia Guadalupe as the First Art District of the city.  This program provided a new option for living art in the city.  By invitation a total of 33 international street artists had the opportunity to come to San Miguel and participate in the creation of new street art for the neighborhood.



                               CREATIVE ARTISTS AT WORK IN SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE


               A JOINT EFFORT IN THIS STREET ART MURAL IN COLONIA GUADALUPE


Artists from different parts of the México including Tlaxcala, Oaxaca, Querétaro, León, Mexico City, San Miguel de Allende, and San Luis de la Paz were joined by artists from Chile, Quebec, Buenos Aires, Dresden, Houston, and New York in this project. They had the opportunity to paint a total of 15 walls under the consent and support of the owners, the neighbors, and the local administration. Their works reflect a mix of styles, techniques, and trends which are now a permanent collection in the streets of Colonia Guadalupe.  A wonderful project! I hope you enjoy their special street art with me.

STREET ART IN PUERTO VALLARTA, MEXICO:

Street art in the city of Puerto Vallarta is alive and thriving!  I rarely leave home without taking a camera with me in order to capture images of the wonderful and creative street art that can be found. The following are a sample of my favorite street art creations with more for your viewing in the accompanying album that you find at the end of this posting. In the near future I plan on exploring more areas of this wonderful town in order to find more street art to share. Until then, enjoy!

            THIS GORGEOUS IGUANA IS FOUND AT PARQUE CARDENAS, OLD TOWN


             COLORFUL STREET ART DESIGN AT THE RIO CUALE IN PUERTO VALLARTA



                      ONE OF MY FAVORITE IGUANA AMIGOS IN PUERTO VALLARTA!


THIS COLLECTION OF STREET ART FEATURES MANY MOTIFS OF THE HUICHOL INDIGENOUS CULTURE


A FULL LENGTH PHOTO OF MY FAVORITE IGUANA NEAR THE RIO CUALE BRIDGE



FOUND NEAR THE MUNICIPAL MERCADO AND THE PHONES ARE FOR REAL!  


STUNNING MURAL OF FRIDA KAHLO AS SEEN AT LOS MUERTOS BEACH IN PV

MADONNARI STREET ART AND HISTORY:


Street painters (also called chalk artists) is the name performance artists are most commonly called in the United States, but they are known as I Madonnari in Italy (singular form: madonnaro or madonnara) because they originally created images of the Madonna.
The Italian Madonnari artist and movement have been traced to the sixteenth century. Many were itinerant artists who were brought to the large cities to work on the huge cathedrals. When the work was completed they needed to find another way to make a living and thus they would often recreate the paintings from the church onto the pavement. The term Madonnari comes from the fact that these images originally were mostly Madonnas.




A MODERN DAY "MADONNA" IN PUERTO VALLARTA, MEXICO



Aware of festivals and holy days held in each province and town, these wandering artists would travel to join in the festivities with the hope of making a living from observers who would throw coins if they approved of the artist's work. For centuries, many Madonnari were folk artists, reproducing simple images with crude materials such as tiles, coal, and chalk. Others, such as El Greco, would go on to become household names.

         FABULOUS THREE DIMENSIONAL CHALK ART IMAGERY!  


In 1973 street painting was being promoted in Italy by the formation of a two-day festival in Grazie di Curtatone in the Province of Mantua. Festivals of this type of artistic expression eventually became known as “Madonnari Festivals.”  These festivals which specialize in the chalk-art-style of painting have become internationally known and appreciated.  We are certainly fortunate that this wonderful tradition continues to this very day.  And I, for one, am especially happy that the City of Puerto Vallarta, México has become part of this artistic tradition.

Go to the following for more on the history of street/chalk art and the Madonnari Festival:
FESTIVAL MADONNARI IN PUERTO VALLARTA:


    FRIDA KAHLO AND HER PET MONO FULANG CHANG ON THE PV PLAZA



The tenth Festival I Madonnari in Puerto Vallarta took place last November, 2015 on the main plaza. Last year was our first experience viewing the creative street art found at this annual event.  What a wonderful surprise! The Madonnari Festival Puerto Vallarta transforms Puerto Vallarta’s main plaza into an over-sized street easel using chalk pastels on the pavement to create vibrant, colorful, and large scale images.



The annual Madonnari festival in Puerto Vallarta is organized in partnership with the Vallarta Institute of Culture, The Tourism Board, and Santa Barbara, California, the sister city of Puerto Vallarta. Santa Barbara also hosts an annual I Madonnari festival which began there in 1987.  Santa Barbara was also one of the first North American cities to participate in this international event.



    HANDSOME WOLVES ON THE PUERTO VALLARTA PLAZA


  TIGERS ARE ALSO PART OF THE CHALK ART FESTIVAL IN PUERTO VALLARTA


I BELIEVE EYES ARE THE WINDOWS TO THE SOUL AND YOU?  


WORKING UNDER THE SUN IS NOT EASY FOR THESE MADONNARI ARTISTS! 


MORE CREATIVE CHALK ART AT THE MADONNARI FESTIVAL IN PUERTO VALLARTA


Plaza de Armas in Puerto Vallarta is filled with modern day artists creating special and unique works of art using chalk and pastels for three days towards the end of each November.  The modern day sidewalk art are more contemporary in theme than the religious paintings of the sixteenth century, but still very enjoyable.  I hope you enjoy your visit to the Festival I Madonnari in Puerto Vallarta!  


         MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU, AMIGOS!  


I remember hearing many years ago that a picture is worth a thousand words. Those words definitely contributed to and inspired me in the creation of MEXICO AND BEYOND: LAURA'S PHOTO JOURNEY. Below you will find my WEB ALBUM which has additional photos for this posting. When you open the Web Album you will be able to view it as a SLIDE SHOW WITH CAPTIONS. 


STREET ART IN LATIN AMERICA

Please scroll down to the bottom of this page in order to access the posting ARCHIVE and the FOLLOW BY EMAIL link to receive automatic posting notifications.  I sincerely appreciate hearing from my readers with their questions, comments, and suggestions. Until then, gracias and safe travels! Laura


                                                          Memories are just a click away!